In a recent, courageous and heart-breaking Facebook post, Michelle Marshall from Millisle horrified us all with a picture of the state of her child’s grave in Ballyvester Cemetery.
I met with Michelle on Tuesday morning and was horrified at the state of the area around her baby’s grave. No mother should see their child’s grave in such a state.
As a Council we have a responsibility to provide efficient services for our residents during their lives and a secure and accessible resting place for them at the end of life. Far from being cold and uninviting, cemeteries are important and valuable quiet places for family and friends to spend time with those who have gone before them.
Given the present state of the lower part of Ballyvester Cemetery we have failed in this regard and have to rectify the situation immediately. I welcome the quick action of our Officers in the provision of hard standing over the next few months with a promise to put effective drainage in place in the Spring/Summer. This at least will allow Michelle and her family – along with visitors to other graves – to immediately have easier access to their loved ones.
I was particularly disappointed that this situation has been allowed to deteriorate as I had brought the issue of poor drainage and resultant problems to the attention of Officers in a Notice of Motion in February 2016 in which I asked for a report on how best to solve this problem.
At the time I was assured that work was being planned and I believe some has been undertaken. However, we clearly have more to do and I now have the assurance that Officers have identified an outlet which will allow them to provide effective drainage for this section of the Cemetery which will require a more significant engineering exercise being carried out during the Summer when the ground is more manageable.